Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts

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Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts
One Piece Room-Disappearance of Archives KU Shih-Yung Solo Exhibiion
Date
2014-12-26 ~ 2015-02-15
 Text by KU Shih-Yung

Disappearance of archives seems fairly common in the digital era. It is caused by absolute “non-human” factors and always makes us suddenly startled and upset. In contrast, the “Disappearance of archives” to which the exhibition refers is absolutely caused by “human factors.”

What are the criteria for archiving a piece of work in the history of art, evaluating the artistic value of a piece of work, and determine an artist’s reputation? In particular, when an artist, whatever the reason may be, breaks away from the mainstream that holds the discursive power, to what extent does the artist’s “political incorrectness” in the art community compromise the legitimacy of her/his interpretation on artistic value?

It is easy to observe two phenomena in the writing of Taiwanese art history. First, it often starts with the issues concerning colonialism in Taiwan, national identity, Taiwanization, and political events. Artworks have meanings only when they are discussed within these issue frameworks. Second, while there is a great deal of literature that examined the styles and forms of artworks with the context of Western modernism, the aesthetic question regarding those artworks has received surprisingly little attention. Creation is in fact a collective text produced by the interplay among internal, external, and trans-regional factors. Accordingly, we should not privilege external factors in our discourse and ignore the internal agency of the artistic subject that points out an alternative historical truth with its sentimental appearance. In fact, artworks often convey the truths that are far more important than the writing of history, which precisely corresponds to Martin Heidegger’s idea that art unveils an “authentic world.”

The term “utter silence” can be used for describing the works in this exhibition, if you will. These outstanding works were collected from abandoned shabby houses, antique shops, or flea markets. Their creators and produced dates remain unknown. These exhibited works gaze back at us in a manner of being devoid of identities and spatial-temporal contexts. Although we may surmise the era in which they were created by reference to their forms and styles, these are mere conjectures on our part. Paradoxically, it is the very disconnection that allows us to observe these works with “brilliant eyes” unaffected by the information about their creators and times. At this moment, the relationship between us and the exhibited artworks becomes unprecedentedly direct, though we have no way of knowing their creators’ backgrounds, personalities, and historical significance.

Archiving art history may entail more political considerations than we suppose, and the mainstream selection system may lead to many misjudgments. In this exhibition, the anonymous works that are not wore away by time serve as the alarm signal that the past gave to the present, while the works that “are very likely to become anonymous in the future” serve as the alarm signal that the present gives to the future.